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Saved by the Lasagna

Written By: Lauren Howard

Saved by the lasagna.

At least, it felt that way. 

I was tapped out of emotional energy. You know, the work that you have to do to communicate or make minor decisions under stress. 

When things are light, there is space to make simple, non-life-changing decisions. When things are heavy, there is none. 

Powering through a difficult time while keeping your family fed, your employer happy and your dog to his weekly yoga session? Energy. 

Answering what you want for lunch when you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities and a pandemic and your very namaste dog? Emotional energy. 

Both of my kids were preemies and in the NICU two years apart. I was overwhelmed. They were small and fragile. I was big and fragile. I was exhausted, terrified, and not able to focus on anything that wasn’t prioritized for actual energy. 

Our amazing, tremendous friends, family, and colleagues would pop into my texts and offer to get us dinner or ask what we needed. They would present us with options for all of the amazing things they were willing to do. Every offer was precious and so, so valued. 

We took almost no one up on it. 

Every offer came tied to a decision, which absolutely made sense but was also absolutely impossible. They were trying to be kind and accommodating. I didn’t have the capacity to make noncritical decisions. That space was consumed with the very critical decisions we had to make all day. 

Then, one day, a neighbor showed up at our door with a plate of lasagna. She didn’t call first. She didn’t ask what we liked. She just showed. She knocked, handed it over, and said, “Call me if you’re still hungry. I have more.” 

I thanked her, closed the door, and cried the wettest, sloppiest, most exhausted tears over a piping hot foil pan of lasagna that I didn’t realize was burning me. For one night, she had saved us. It didn’t care that neither of us cared for lasagna. We ate it and we were fed and had one problem off of our plates for the night. 

I wasn’t capable of answering the questions of how people could help because I was exhausted and, even in my very desperate state, worried about the inconvenience. I worried about the cost. I worried about someone seeing me disheveled and raw. I couldn’t handle the emotional energy necessary to figure out what we needed. 

But my neighbor? She figured it out for me. 

Emotional energy is in short supply when you’re overwhelmed with life or job hunting or just running on empty. 

A lot of us are running on empty right now. 

If there is someone in your universe who is running on empty, asking permission is asking for energy that they don’t have to give. Try to fill a gap quietly, without pomp and circumstance, without questions, without adding yet another decision that the person has to make. 

You did a lot more than show up with food. You showed up silently with a solution, with kindness, with empathy, and with strength. 

That’s what they need right then. 


Founder & CEO at elletwo


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